Stephen Hawking may not be an oracle, a know-it-all guy when it comes to predicting the future of humanity, but many of his predictions have come true in the past. So, when someone of his scientific and intellectual stature warns humanity that it is on a path of early extinction, we should all pay attention.
“We are investing heavily in Artificial Intelligence, and a time will come when we develop machines that will be smarter than us. Even know, at the early stages of development, we have reached the point where computers are replacing humans on a staggering level. Consider what will the future hold, should we continue at this pace.”
In response to such claims, Stephen Hawking who is widely considered as one of the smartest people on Earth, has taken some criticism from the AI community. He is being called a pessimist, and is asked to take a wider view on this issue and consider a more positive side to AI technology.
Mr. Hawking, however, continues to remind people of the potential dangers we are all facing, with AI tech being only part of the problem.
“Global population is increasing at a staggering rate, with estimates claiming more than 11 billion by the end of the century. Housing is becoming a problem, as well as industrial pollution. In the future we will see an increase in deaths by pollution and new diseases will emerge.”
Humanity’s biggest problems are part of the human character. The problem is not the Earth, or nature. The main issue here that will lead to humanity’s ultimate doom is stupidity and greed.
We have this tendency to rely more and more on the technologies around us. Even to the point of becoming dumber, less aware of our surroundings and less in tune with the real world. Just consider the number of selfie – related accidents. Just for social approval, likes and share, more and more people nowadays take selfies with moving trains behind them, next to a wild animal or on top of a high tower.
Accidents in the US alone last year counter more than 30,000.
And consider how many people get in car accidents due to usage of a smartphone while on the road. That one is already becoming a classic case example.
AI was given as an example of how technologies that we develop and seem to control today will drastically change the society we live in, in the future. Stephen Hawking even predicts that these technologies will become so intelligent and aware of their own existence that will not accept our control anymore. It is at that point that humanity’s end chapter will begin.
In a metaphor, Hawking compared our situation today with a hunter finding a newborn of a monster in the forest, and the hunter takes it home. I mean, how could you leave a newborn in the forest, right? At first it doesn’t seem like it poses a danger to anyone, but when it grows up, its true nature will come to light and the monster will eat the hunter.
A world renowned physicists and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking’s achievements in science and his impartial standing on many issue should be reason enough to take his predictions seriously. He is right on the population problem, global pollution and the effects of technology on human behavior. More and more, we are serving the machines that were initially built to serve us.
We are allowing them to dictate our behavior, daily schedule and the attention we used to give our fellow humans. There are a lot of things, it seems, that we must pay attention to, and change, before it is too late.